What are the social and economic effects of gambling addiction?
In 1998 the National Gambling Impact Study Commission funded a study to determine the overall cost to society posed by problem and pathological gamblers in the United States.
The results showed that approximately $5 billion was lost annually, with an additional $40 billion in lifetime costs for productivity reductions, social services and creditor losses. Studies have concluded that two out of three pathological gamblers commit illegal acts in order to pay gambling-related debts. This places a hardship on our legal systems, prison systems and public assistance programs.
The following consequences of problem gambling all result in economic costs for states, communities and individuals:
- Job loss, unemployment
- Debt, bankruptcy
- Embezzlement, fraud, check forgery
- Eviction, forced home sales
- Crime, arrest, incarceration
- Poor physical and mental health, suicide
- Alcohol and drug abuse
The families of problem gamblers also suffer greatly from physical and psychological abuse; harassment and threats from bill collectors and creditors; increased stress stemming from neglect and divorce; and the extra financial burden placed on them to repay debts.
Sadly, children are negatively affected by gambling addiction in several ways.
- Physical and emotional abandonment is a very real phenomenon.
- “Casino kids” are left in cars or on the periphery of the gambling action while their parents gamble, or may spend hours with babysitters, thus missing the nurturing they need.
- Children of pathological gamblers are typically abused verbally, mentally and physically by the gambler, and often even more so by the co-dependent spouse.
- Finally, these children are much more likely to develop gambling addiction than their peers.
Excerpted from research: Effects of Problem Gambling. California Council on Problem Gambling (Anaheim, CA); 2006.